Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review - The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

The Ghost Bride

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

From Goodreads:

"One evening, my father asked me if I would like to become a ghost bride..."

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family's only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim's handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family's darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Such a beautiful cover! I was curious about this story since I am Chinese, and I have heard of the "ghost bride" practice. I didn't know much about it though, so was excited to learn more.

I am sorry to say that I did not finish this book... even though I was eager to read it. It started off interestingly enough, but I just couldn't get engaged. [SPOILER]  I mean, I should feel for Li Lan - she was asked to be a ghost bride after all! Her family was falling apart! But I just didn't really care one way or the other... And there just wasn't much development between her and the boy she fancied - one second they were strangers, then the next she wanted to marry him already (and if it really was love at first sight, I didn't feel the attraction). And the she was had the out-of-body experience, it just because too much of a self-of-consciousness type of story and I just couldn't read anymore... [/SPOILER]

I generally do like having a strong female protagonist, but in this case, she annoyed me instead... maybe I am just getting old and the protagonist seemed kinda young. Some other reviews said this reads more like a YA - maybe that's it... YA is really not my genre apart from a selected few.

I did like that the author included a few pages of notes in the end of the book, explaining the different traditions/folktales regarding ghost marriage. I just wish they were incorporated more into the story itself. I don't have any concrete examples (too lazy to go find some), but the impression I got from reading this book was that it was more "tell" than "show"... so maybe the author's writing style and my reading style just don't jell?! I am really thinking it is just me though, since if you read other reviews on the TLC tour, there are many, many positive reviews and I am the rare exception... so never mind me, as the lack of time/energy/brain power had made me extremely picky into what I'd read nowadays...

0 Star - Did Not Finish

Yangsze’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, August 7th: Bibliophilia, Please!
Monday, August 12th: The Reader’s Hollow
Tuesday, August 13th: Bibliophiliac
Thursday, August 15th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Monday, August 19th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, August 20th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, August 20th: BoundByWords
Wednesday, August 21st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, August 22nd: Ageless Pages Reviews
Monday, August 26th: Mental Foodie
Tuesday, August 27th: Excellent Library

Note - An advanced copy was given in exchange for an unbiased review.

All reviews and posts are copyrighted by Christa @ Mental Foodie. Please do not use or reprint them without written permission.


  1. Darn, I'm sorry that you weren't able to connect with the main character. Hopefully your next read is a better fit.

    Thanks for being on the tour.